Colleen Kramer talks about the down and dirty of diving


While most fall sports are ending, FHC Girls Swim and Dive is still going at full throttle.

“The states meet comes right after regionals, which comes right after conference,” senior diver Colleen Kramer said. “It’s a very fast-paced schedule and very stressful. But I’ll be sad when it’s over.”

Behind all the hard work and cutthroat competition, the dive team has a unique bond. This special connection could not have been built under any other conditions.

“My teammates are my biggest competition,” Colleen said. “It’s really hard because they are my best, best friends. But we dive against each other because diving is sort of an individual sport. And it’s extremely hard to feel like you’re diving to try and beat your own teammates.”

Some may think that swimmers and divers are two separate entities, but that is not the case.

“At the beginning of the season, we weren’t as close with the swimmers because we never really talked at practice,” Colleen said. “As the season went on, though, we’ve had so many team bonding activities that we’re all really close now.”

The dive team spends at least three hours together every day for a 16-week season. When Colleen is poised on the diving board, swimmers are practicing just two feet to her side in the lanes.

“We are all practicing in a physically close vicinity,” Colleen said. “That adds to how close we become as friends.”

Divers from Forest Hills Northern and Eastern practice at the same place and time as FHC. While it may have been a strange situation at first, the girls on the FHC team have made the most of it. Between the three schools, eight divers share two boards. This inevitably led to conversation and bonding between the girls.

“We only have three divers on our team, so it’s nice to have more people to be with,” Colleen said. “We’ve gotten so close that it’s like we’re one big team.”

During the season, divers have become close to not only their teammates but to their coach as well.

Coach Jasmine Ramahi was new to the FHC Dive program two years ago. She moved from Chicago and has a job at East Kentwood teaching Spanish. While Ramahi coaches with a different style than the previous FHC diving coach, she is very loved by her athletes.

You just feel your hands hit the water on the last dive, and you realize that it’s all over. You can’t control the tears from coming down your face.

— Colleen Kramer

“It took us time to get used to Jazzy at first,” Colleen said. “[Our old coach] used to make us focus intensely the entire time. Jazzy makes us work hard too, but she’s almost like another teammate to us–along with being a coach, of course.”

Practice can be long and arduous. A normal day includes drills, hurdles, and bounces.

“Our practices [can] go really long,” Colleen said. “[It takes more time] with the Northern and Eastern girls there [and having] to share our boards.”

When they do dive, the team has to be careful of not injuring themselves on the board.

“Hitting the board is scary, and I keep getting really close to it,” Colleen said. “We have this one dive where you pike so that your legs come up to your upper body, and then your upper body lays back. When I did it the other day, I was really close to the board already–and I had to lay my neck back, which would make me even closer to the board. I thought I was going to break my neck and die.”

Divers work hard but don’t lose their silly side; some days at practice call for goofiness.

“One day, the swimmers weren’t at the pool. It was just me, Nicole [Carlson], Anna [Hansen], and Jazzy,” Colleen said. “We all got on boards and howled at each other like we were a pack of wolves. It was so funny that I was laying on the board laughing.”

The dive team is small in number but mighty in performance. As they prepare for the states meet, the divers are nervous but excited.

“We go into the meet knowing how we’re seeded,” Colleen said. “The rankings are usually fairly accurate, but we always still try to go for that individual gold or individual state title.”

The states meet consists of eight preliminary dives on Friday night. The last three dives are competed on Saturday. Going into the Saturday meet, athletes know how they need to perform in order to place where they hope to.

“Friday night at the hotel is very tense,” Colleen said. “Hopefully, we’ll all be within 10 or 20 points of each other. But then you’re using your last three dives [on Saturday] to make up for however many points you’re behind on. It’s very nerve-wracking.”

In the past, FHC Diving has seen it all: state champions, state runner-ups, and multiple members making the top 7 at states.

The divers not only encourage their teammates at meets, but they motivate each other to work harder during practices.

“I’m so inspired by my teammates,” Colleen said. “Since my teammates are also my competition, I push myself to work harder one hundred percent of the time because I can see how my teammates are practicing.”

For many of the seniors, the states meet will be the last time that they are on the board.

“At every state meet before this year, I’ve cried after my eleventh [and final] dive,” Colleen said. “You just feel your hands hit the water on the last dive, and you realize that it’s all over. You can’t control the tears from coming down your face. It’s going to be especially hard this year since it’ll be the last time I ever dive in my life.”

While Colleen won’t be diving in college, she knows that her high school diving career has changed her life.

“After [the states meet], I won’t be part of FHC Dive team anymore–physically,” Colleen said. “But I’ll always have it in my heart.”